New imaging technique effective in finding prostate cancer cells

Dr. Jeremie Calais

A study published online by JAMA showed that a new imaging technique is effective in finding the location of a recurrence of cancer in patients after surgery or radiation therapy. The imaging technique is called the prostate-specific membrane antigen positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging, or PSMA PET/CT.

Men who undergo prostate cancer treatment with surgery or radiation therapy can have a recurrence of prostate cancer if some of the tumors were not removed during surgery or if they spread to other parts of the body. As a standard of care after initial therapy, patients take a blood test to determine if they have a recurrence of cancer. If the blood test comes back positive, patients undergo an imaging scan to find the location of the cancer cells.

To investigate the effectiveness of the new imaging technique, researchers at UCLA and the University of California, San Francisco collaborated to conduct a multicenter study. They performed the PSMA PET/CT scan on 635 patients. Each of the patients had been previously treated for their prostate cancer and had a proven recurrence of prostate cancer. Of the 635 patients in the study, the PSMA scan was able to detect the location of cancer cells in 475 or 75 percent of the patients.

“PSMA is very effective in finding cancer cells in the area where the prostate was located or throughout the body if the cells spread,” said Jeremie Calais, MD, with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and an author of the study. “Once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the PSMA PET/CT scan will be an effective tool in helping physicians find and treat prostate cancer cells.”

The authors included: Johannes Czernin, Wolfgang Fendler and Thomas Hope. For a complete list of authors and to read the fully study, visit: